“Hey, I’m okay, I’m okay.” He gently pushed me off, holding his hands on my shoulder until I was a foot away from him. “Okay? I’m okay.”
“I was just worried.” I blinked rapidly, fighting back tears, and swallowed hard.
“Yeah, you look like it,” Jack said quietly, and his concern washed over me.
“She just needs a nice warm bubble bath!” Mae wrapped an arm tightly around my waist so she could pull me away from Jack, and it did require some effort on her part. “We have some wonderful lilac bath salts that just melt the tension away.”
Mae continued telling me all the amazing features of her tub as she led me away, but I glanced back over my shoulder at Jack.
“You’ve really got to be more careful,” Ezra warned him.
“I didn’t even do anything!” Jack protested, and I wondered dully how this all could possibly work out in the end.
The hot Jacuzzi wasn’t quite as magic as Mae had professed it would be, but it really did help relax me at least. All of this seemed so bizarre. In a time not so long ago, I hadn’t even known these people, and now it would be impossible to imagine the rest of my life without them, however long that life might end up being.
When I finally pulled myself out of the relaxing waters of the tub, I wrapped myself in one of their gigantic plush towels. Mae had filled her bedroom with lilac scented candles, and it was all aglow with candle light.
Laid out on the white bedspread, she had left satin pajama pants and a matching blue camisole for me. Since their house generally ran cold, I put my hoodie on over it, but it almost felt like sacrilege to put something so ordinary over her extravagance. They lived on a whole other plane from me, in every way possible.
“I merely stated that you rolled the Jeep.” Ezra’s words wafted down the hall towards me when I opened their bedroom door. “It’s not asking that much that you pay for it.”
“You just want me out of the house more,” Jack grumbled.
“That wouldn’t hurt you either,” Ezra said.
I made my way down the hall to the kitchen, and they all stopped talking when I came ins. Mae stood amongst a mass of dishes and food splayed out all over the counter tops. She had white powder on her cheeks and some kind of red sauce dripped all over an elegant white apron.
Jack sat on a stool pulled up to the counter, and I’m sure he fancied himself helping, but I’d imagine that he spent more time playing with the ingredients. As it was, he was juggling a tomato and a lemon when I walked in.
“Oh, you look so much better!” Mae beamed at me. Jack dropped the tomato on the counter and deliberately looked away from me. “Wasn’t that bath fabulous?”
“Yeah, it was pretty great.” I ran my fingers through my tangles of wet hair, and I could almost see Mae longing to play with it. Walking over to the mess she was making, I was careful to keep a distance from Jack. “What are you doing?”
“Trying to make you some kind of comfort food,” Mae smiled grimly at me. “I used to be an amazing cook, I swear! Everyone in my neighborhood loved my cooking!” Jack scoffed, and she reached across the counter to slap him on the arm. “I was! You would’ve been thrilled to eat anything I made!”
“Whatever you say.” Jack leaned back in the stool, moving farther out of arm’s length, in case Mae decided to swat him again.
“It’s just been so long since I’ve cooked anything.” Mae looked sourly at the mess around her, which consisted of everything from cucumbers to pears to pie crusts. “I’ve just forgotten what everything tastes like.” A spoon was in a bowl of something red, and she gave it one superficial swirl, then looked apologetically at me. “I don’t think that I’ve made anything that you can actually eat.”
“What about this?” Jack held up the tomato towards me, but I just shook my head.
“I’m okay. I’m not even hungry.”
“Oh!” Mae shouted, her eyes glittering. “Your brother is a cook, isn’t he?”
“Not professionally, but yeah, he’s really good,” I told her hesitatingly. I liked Milo and all, but there was too much going on over here, and I didn’t really want him to come over. At least not tonight.
“Oh fantastic! And I’m sure he knows all of your favorite recipes!” She overflowed with her own genius. “Here. Why don’t you just give me his phone number and I’ll give him a call. Oh, what time is it? It’s not too late is it?” She glanced around for a clock, and it was only a quarter to nine. “He’s still awake, isn’t he?”
I nodded, and Mae whipped her phone out of her pocket, and I gave her his number.
“Oh, Milo!” Mae smiled so wide, it looked almost painful. “I’m so glad you answered! Oh, I didn’t wake you, did I? I’m sorry, love. I don’t want to disturb you.” He must’ve answered with something positive, because she laughed lightly, and continued about making me the perfect meal to make me feel better.
“I’m really not very hungry.” I lowered my voice considerably, just in case Mae might hear, but she was talking to Milo and swooping around the kitchen, gathering pots and pans and whatever she thought she’d needed. “Why do you guys have pots and pans anyway?”
“It makes us look more normal.” Jack rolled his shoulders. “I mean, we don’t really need kitchens, and in a household of four people, we have seven bathrooms.”